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Interview: And The Kids’ Hannah Mohan on their new album, gender roles, and road snacks

 
 

When one first listens to any of And The Kids’ songs, it can be difficult to put the genre into words — it’s not quite rock, not quite pop, but seems to touch on everything in between. Their sophomore album’s title track, “Friends Share Lovers,” has a dreamy, psychedelic rock undertone while “Glory, Glory” off of their first album is a slower, indie rock melody. The Northampton band’s self-described genre doesn’t offer anything definitive either: “unconscious, accessible, existential, indie, glitter, popsicle, crisis.” But that’s the thing about their music; it can’t be, and shouldn’t be, siloed into one category.

Listeners should approach each song with an open mind, with no prior notions of what one song should sound like based on another. Doing so is depriving oneself of the wonder that is And the Kids’ music. The end of each song serves as a transition, a door into to each coming song’s universe, each characterized by their own unique riffs and quirks but laced with a common thread between them all. The band’s two albums, Turn to Each Other and last month’s Friends Share Lovers, are so dissimilar, yet so distinctly characterized by vocalist and guitarist Hannah Mohan’s unmistakably stunning vocals woven through. Other elements, such as Rebecca Lasaponaro’s use of xylophone, are peppered throughout the albums as a reminder to the listener that despite the apparent mélange of sounds, these kids how to get the listener’s attention — and make a damn good album.

Friends Share Lovers reflects on the complications that arise when, you guessed it, friends share lovers. The idea comes from an old friend group of Mohan’s, which the band’s name is also based off of, that experienced the intricacies that come along with being romantically involved with the same people as your friends. Friends Share Lovers, produced by Jace Lasek, is a truly fantastic showcase of the band’s growth in a short period of time (they released their first album just last year). And The Kids are currently on their Friends Share Lovers album release tour, and in advance of their Thursday (July 7) record release party at the Sinclair in Cambridge, we caught up with Mohan for a bit before a stop in Rochester.

Cara DiFabio: To start, can you give a bit of background on how the band came together?

Hannah Mohan: Rebecca [Lasaponaro] and I met in middle school, we actually met in music class, and we got paired together because everybody had to pick a partner and we didn’t have any friends, like we were the last ones put together [laughs]. And we started playing music together as best friends and then we dropped out of high school together and kept playing music. We started a bunch of different bands and had bunch of different projects, and then we met Megan [Miller], our keyboard player, at the Institute for the Musical Arts and then a year later we met Taliana [Katz], our bass player. She didn’t join until Megan got deported.

So you and Rebecca are both from Massachusetts, do you guys think that coming from Massachusetts has had any impact on your music?

Yeah I definitely think so. I always thought no, but now I’m starting to realize yes. Because there’s so many bands in Western Mass and there’s so much of a music scene. Rebecca and I have been a part of the music scene in town since we were like 14, and we were playing in bands that had older dudes in them. It’s definitely a part of our songwriting too. When we first started in a band, Rebecca played bass and I played drums, and that’s really how we learned to write, by playing other people’s songs. There’s a big garage/sludge rock/psychedelic rock influence.

How is it playing venues in your home state and in Boston?

Well when we started in Boston we started playing at Toad, we did some residencies there, so Toad is near and dear to us. And then we started playing the Lizard Lounge and then we played Great Scott. I really love Great Scott.

Yeah me too, I live around the corner from it, it’s a great little place.

Definitely! But yeah, we’re just getting into the Sinclair, it’s a really cool space so I’m excited to play there.

The Sinclair is an awesome spot. Diving into your new album — was there anything different about the creative process behind it as opposed to your first album?

Yeah, definitely, some of the songs were actually written before Megan got deported but after she got deported we had a significantly shorter set because some of the songs we couldn’t play out and we had all these shows, so I was writing a couple of songs that had to be kind of just power songs like just guitar and drums, so a few of them were spat out like that and people made their parts to them. And then some of the songs were really flushed out by going back and forth to Canada to write with Megan. We did that a for a few months so there was a lot of writing at home and then reworking stuff when we got to Megan.

That must’ve been exhausting and taken a lot out of you guys going back and forth.

Yeah, it was just nonstop.

I read that you guys recorded the album when Mercury was in retrograde?

Yeah! So we booked studio time exactly when Mercury was in retrograde.

Was that just a coincidence or…?

Yeah it totally was! I had no intention to do that. But it actually worked out really well, like everything was so smooth. I mean I don’t know, Mercury in retrograde gets this like bad rap but it really worked out for us.

So you guys were recently at South-by-Southwest. How was that?

South by Southwest is different because I finally get to see all the bands I don’t get to see while I’m on tour. Everybody ends up in the same place. There’s always shows going on that I can’t go to but finally everyone that I’ve wanted to see all year is just there and there are a million shows and you can go to any one.

How many years have you guys been going there?

I think this last year was our third year.

Do you guys have any pre-show rituals you do?

I always think of stuff for this question and I always forget about it! I brought a longboard with me on tour so I’ve been longboarding before shows. And we’re trying to see the opening bands more. We like to watch the other bands so that’s kind of our ritual too.

I saw that one of your recent Facebook posts was along the lines of “If you want to treat us equally, don’t call us a girl band.” Do you guys find that you’re treated differently than other bands when you’re touring or maybe there’s some pre-existing notions of gender roles in the music industry?

Yeah, I mean definitely. We didn’t really notice them until we’re on tour all the time, like we’ve gone to venues and people don’t even think we’re playing, they think we’re the girlfriends carrying gear and we’re like, ‘No, let us in the venue!’ Like a lot of stuff like that. And then it turns out there’s a lot of passive aggressive comments too, like backhanded compliments, like ‘Oh I was really surprised, I thought it was gonna sound pretty’ or whatever and you’re like, I know that’s supposed to be a compliment, but it’s just so not.

Have you guys talked to any other bands that have experienced similar comments or problems?

Yeah, definitely, and people are finding outlets like making zines and stuff, starting to talk about it.

It’s good that people are recognizing it and talking about it. So I’m of the belief that what people eat for snacks tells a lot about their personality — do you guys have any favorite snacks while on the road?

Ooooo, I’ve been really into the Cheez-Its where there’s two types of cheese, like the Parmesan and, oh my gosh, yeah [laughs]. Talia’s really been getting into Subway. That’s not really a snack though. We’re really trying to get away from Taco Bell. I’ve been eating a lot of PB&J’s! It’s saving me a lot of money.

PB&Js, so good! Such a classic. What about after you’re done on the road, do you have any plans for after you wrap up your tour?

After tour we’re going straight to Canada to do some more writing and hanging out with Megan. She just moved from Ottawa to Montreal, and she just moved into a house venue, so there’s gonna be a bunch of shows there. It seems really cool so I’m excited.

That’s awesome. I saw that you’ll be playing Grand Point North in September too.

Yeah! This is our first time but we’ve spent a lot of time in Burlington so I’m excited.

Any other comments you want to leave readers with?

Feist, if you’re listening to this, if you’re reading this interview, we love you. Tina Fey, you inspire us. St. Vincent, please call us.

AND THE KIDS + VUNDABAR + KAL MARKS :: Thursday, July 7 at the Sinclair, 52 Church St. in Cambridge MA :: 7:30 p.m., all ages, $12 :: Bowery event page :: Advance tickets